Despite releasing four well received albums of their own material since 2004, Wussy are little known outside of their own Cincinatti alt-rock scene, and their output has not found its way outside the states as yet, except as expensive imports. We’ve all been greatly missing out!
Aimed at introducing the wonders of Wussy to a UK and European market, ‘Buckeye’ is a 17 track collection of songs made up from the band’s previous albums – not a ‘Best Of’, more of a belated ‘Welcome to our world’!
Wussy’s two vocalists Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker combine their greatly differing styles to grand effect, giving the likes of ‘Maglite’ and ‘Airborne’ some classic boy/girl pop interplay. However it is Walker who takes the lead on the majority of the songs here. Perhaps it’s the differing sessions these songs hail from that account for it but the adaptability and range in her vocal approach is impressive; from an angry Kim Gordon-esque pout and sneer, to an almost Jenny Lewis-esque poise and melodic softness; she is Wussy’s not-so-secret weapon.
Earlier material like ‘Motorcycle’, ‘Crooked’ and ‘Airborne’ have a wonderfully raw melodic rock feel, with one eye on perfect pop, and the other on The Vaselines, Yo La Tengo and the Velvet Underground’s noise and daring, while throughout the songs never lose their garagey sense of looseness, dynamic or exhilaration. The superbly raw ‘Funeral Dress’ does some cheeky, stoned and sleazy rock things with the riff from ‘Teenage Kicks’ while some of the newer material like ‘Asteroids’ and ‘Maglite’ have the beautiful feel of barbed Pixies pop tunes not quite diminished by the noise. Elsewhere, ‘Pulverised’ is like an early punky version of The Delgados winning a fist fight against Arcade Fire, while The jangling guitars and softer melodies of ‘Jonah’ and ‘Muscle Cars’ are vaguely reminiscent of Rilo Kiley’s earlier new-wavey work, showing that wonky blistering alt-rock is far from the only weapon in the arsenal.
It’s during several repeated plays of one of the major standouts, ‘Airborne’, as it surges for another urgent chorus, that it becomes clearer as to one of the main things that makes this band sound so mighty – With two impressive songwriters, Cleaver’s more classic Alt-Country leaning style, combined with Walker’s more unpredictable and barbed punk-edged melodic approach, it’s the surprise blending together that makes for such a potent and original cocktail. As a result, the 60 minutes of ‘Buckeye’ is crammed full of simply wonderful, urgent and exciting rock music that begs to be replayed and replayed.
This is one of the finest releases of the year and this reviewer, for one, has just found his new favourite band